Commentary: mobile laboratories for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics: what Europe could learn from the East African Community to assure trade in times of border closures
BACKGROUND: The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 mutants might lead to European border closures, which impact on trade and result in serious economic losses. In April 2020, similar border closures were observed during the first SARS-CoV-2 wave in East Africa. MAIN BODY: Since 2017 the East African Community EAC together with the Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine BNITM established a mobile laboratory network integrated into the National Public Health Laboratories of the six Partner States for molecular diagnosis of viral haemorrhagic fevers and SARS-CoV-2. Since May 2020, the National Public Health Laboratories of Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan deployed these mobile laboratories to their respective borders, issuing a newly developed "Electronic EAC COVID-19 Digital Certificate" to SARS-CoV-2 PCR-negative truck drivers, thus assuring regional trade. CONCLUSION: Considering the large financial damages of border closures, such a mobile laboratory network as demonstrated in East Africa is cost-effective, easy to implement and feasible. The East African Community mobile laboratory network could serve as a blueprint for Europe and other countries around the globe.